Gambling in football: 'I've had to bail out players' - Morton manager Jim Duffy

Greenock Morton manager Jim Duffy
Duffy has been a manager at six Scottish clubs

Jim Duffy says he has had to bail out players many times during his football management career following financial problems caused by gambling.

The Greenock Morton boss has previously been in charge of Falkirk, Dundee, Hibernian, Brechin City and Clyde, plus a spell as Norwich City caretaker.

Duffy has experience of clubs lending players funds then taken from wages.

"There are many, many occasions where we have had to help players financially," Duffy told BBC Scotland.

The issue of gambling hit the headlines again last week after Burnley midfielder Joey Barton, who started the season with Rangers, was banned for 18 months by the English FA for breaking rules on betting.

PFA Scotland chairman John Rankin claimed that referees and club directors were involved in gambling as well as players in Scotland.

Duffy said he had dealt with many players "who have got themselves into such a distressed state", some even becoming involved with "money lenders".

"Let's just say people they shouldn't have got money from and they had real difficulties to the point where they were being threatened," the 58-year-old told BBC Scotland's Sportsound.

"Over the many years I've been involved, there's been an awful lot of circumstances where, of course, I would never disclose which players because it's unfair.

"Gambling is a huge problem within football."

'Joey Barton's got an illness'

However, Duffy suggested that the FA had been heavy handed in its dealings with Barton.

Burnley midfielder Joey Barton
Duffy believes Joey Barton's 18-month ban was excessive

"When it becomes an addiction, that's when it becomes a problem and that's the reason I've got sympathy for Joey Barton," he said.

"Joey Barton's got an addiction, Joey Barton's got an illness, so why is he the one who's castigated for this?

"You go back to the Eric Cantona one - he kung-fu's a supporter and gets nine months - and Rio Ferdinand misses a drug test and gets eight months.

"Barton's getting 18 months. What's worse?"

Ladbrokes also last week announced that it had extended its sponsorship of the Scottish Professional Football League for another season.

It is just one of a number of bookmakers involved in Scottish football and Motherwell captain Keith Lasley thought that such companies also had a responsibility to act.

"Why are they taking those bets?" said the midfielder. "Who doesn't know Joey Barton in British football and yet they are continuing to take those bets?

"I think the bookies do a fantastic job investing a lot of money in our game, but to me I think they have their cake and eat it a wee bit."

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